#4 - Final Fantasy 6
While Kid Atma was somewhere between Loto's Descendant and Loto and figuring that all out, she was busy discovering that video games could actually be a decent vehicle for genuine storytelling. I had rented the game on a whim and was so enamored by it, I wouldn't shut up about it until I was given a copy of it as a gift for graduating elementary school. What a thing to encourage a 10 year old in academia. It was now summer break and I was going to spend a lot of time with this one.
You couldn't ask for a better game to give someone close to their preteen years. It's full of magic, color, character, and it oozed charm out of every pore. We'd gotten a huge chunk of the early FF franchise skipped, which was later fixed very much so, but we got this one and it bridged the gap between a translation and a localization for me, even if I didn't know what all that was yet. It's a heroic tale full of swords and technology and dragons and lasers and had the right amount of happiness and darkness that a kid could still appreciate it but not feel like it was ever condescending towards you. Every facet of it fascinated me and I wouldn't shut up about it for years. It dominated my every thought.
If you asked me back then what was so damn great about this, I'd probably say something dorky about swords and dragons and how totally cool Terra and Celes were. Having not one but two competent sword-mage women in this game was an excellent influence and a great pair of role models for any young woman with such lofty ambitions of being someone like them someday. I'd still recommend the original translation (this isn't the time or the place to debate the merits of any one localization to another) to kids of that age if they want something they can look up to and have it respect them back. It's absolutely absorbing and the music and scope of the visuals was beyond absolutely anything of its time. Even now, it's still an impressive project for the system, even if we're well aware of how badly the code is and how much it's barely held up by chewing gum and duct tape, even if that just adds to the charm.
The game is very much magic meets science, and not always in a bad way. So many settings pit them needlessly against each other using flimsy reasons to do so, and it comes off as bad religion vs skepticism allegories that we get enough of in real life from the under-informed and the pompous both. The two aesthetics seemed to compliment each other strongly and I have it to thank as a major influence in my own writing now and how to do magitech without insulting anyone's intelligence.
This game is also a big hallmark on my lesbian identity as I realize now how badly I had a crush on the character Celes. She's one of the major root causes of my eternal problem of falling for blondes in real life and in fiction, and I was just coming off of having fallen for a classmate of mine, whom I now cite as my first true case of love ever, and she was also a blonde. A double dose will get you in so much trouble. Celes was competent, took no shit, strong, a skilled swordsman, and skilled mage, if even not always by choice, she still did what was right instead of what was easy, and I can see where I got my own moral sense of such from looking at people like her. Celes and Terra became my first "ship" even if I didn't quite know what that was yet either. Kid Atma would argue it's canon and I'm not one to disagree with her.
But speaking of Atma, this game is also where I get my nickname from. The Atma Weapon is the first major roadblock in the game for most players, a massive magic-based WMD of a boss, stylish in a way only a demonic-mecha looking dragon thing could be. It spoke in archaic form (it does so in Japanese, too) and could be defeated either super slowly by weak MP drain or fast with traditional HP damage, but the more it took the stronger it got and would lead to easy and frustrating wipes. It had a much stronger twin in the final dungeon named solely Atma (or Atma Buster in the Japanese version), and while I may be named originally for the stronger one, Atma Weapon is a much cooler name than Atma Buster. I was 10 then, and as of publishing this, I am 30 now, so over 20 years with the same brand is pretty damn good.
It's for this and many more reasons I cite this as #4. This was puberty level Atma coming into a more firm identity, both as a swordsman and as a lesbian. Conflicts that Terra and Celes both faced, one as a half-Esper (magic being) and one as a dutiful swordsman, both questioning what love is, is a pivotal part of that forming of who I am and who I was then.
Hey guys, I think I figured out what love is.
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